Shortstop Tiers: Should owners act early?

The shortstop position is the best it’s been at the top since the days of A-Rod, Jeter, and Nomar.  There are lots of really good options, and the news of Manny Machado playing short only makes things better. Let’s take a look.

Tier One
Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor

Manny Machado – Not much to say here for me.  If he hadn’t had an unlucky 2017, I think I would have elevated him above the rest.  I trust him the most to be an elite producer out of any of this group of studs.

Carlos Correa – Broke out in a big way last year.  He’s an absolute star, but he’s had some injury trouble.  He’s still my second favorite option at the position.  It’s nice to bat in that stacked Houston lineup.

Trea Turner – I probably trust Seager more than I trust Turner, but you can’t sleep on speed in today’s environment.  Trea Turner has been going as high as fourth overall in expert leagues because of the potential five-category contribution along with legitimate 50+ steal potential.  I LOVE Turner, but the shorter body of work and slow start last year give me just enough hesitation to place him behind Machado and Correa.

Corey Seager – I think people are actually starting to take Corey Seager for granted.  Not to the point that they do with his brother, but still.  He was touted to be a superstar and so far has just been an all-star.  I feel really comfortable with Seager’s floor and still think there’s the upside that he does become that mega star we were expecting.

Francisco Lindor – I suggested trading for Lindor in a dynasty article I wrote last year.  At the time, he was viewed as distinctly below the other SS stars, including Xander Bogaerts.  Hopefully some of you cashed in on his monster 2017.  The breakout was bigger than I expected. I wouldn’t pencil him in for 30 homers again, but he is a star that belongs with the other names in this tier.

Tier Two
Alex Bregman, Elvis Andrus

Alex Bregman – The hype seems to be going crazy on Bregman for the second year in a row.  I might not get any shares this year if he ends up going in the top 30-35 picks.  Still, he was the best player in the minors at one point and had a monster showing in 2016.  His second half in 2017 was excellent as well, and now he’s SS eligible.  It is fair to say that he has the potential to be the #1 SS this year.  He comes in just behind the elite guys for me.

Elvis Andrus – It’s probably unfair for me to list the guy who was the #1 SS in most formats last year as the seventh option this year.  I just feel like that was Andrus’s best case season.  He is still solid for steals and likely average.  Andrus just has an extended body of work — good, but not 2017 caliber — and if the price is going to go up, then I’m likely not going to get him anywhere.

Tier Three
Xander Bogaerts, Jean Segura, Trevor Story, Eduardo Nunez

Xander Bogaerts I called Bogaerts falling off last year.  This came after years of loving him as a prospect.  Xander has not yet figured out how to hit for power and hit for average.  He seems to be able to do one at a time, but not both.  He’s young enough that it’s not unfathomable to think he could vastly improve.  That said, I wouldn’t bank on that happening.

Jean Segura – Jean Segura is … good?  He’s been pretty solid for a couple of years now.  It’s time to stop doubting him.  I still prefer quite a few others to him, but he is definitely a top-10 starting SS in fantasy.

Trevor Story – I feel like I’m going to get a lot of Story this year.  He was bad enough last year that many people ended up dropping him.  We saw his best in 2016 and likely his worst in 2017.  I still trust Coors field and that lineup.  This is a guy with 40 homers and 15 steals upside.  He was better in the second half last year, and I’m hopeful that he comes at a discount.  I’m going to chase the upside here.  I’ve said before that he is like Chris Davis … at SS.  That comes with all the good and the bad of calling someone Chris Davis.

Eduardo Nunez – Written about him a lot now in the other tier previews.  The gist of it is steals, lineup, and maybe batting average, and multi-eligibility.

Tier Four
Zack Cozart, Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings, Addison Russell

Zack Cozart – He showed some signs of a post-hype breakout in 2016, and then made good in 2017.  Cozart had an absurdly good season last year.  I think some of it was fluky, but some of it was legit.  I don’t think you can fake the change in plate approach.  Maybe being around Joey Votto finally rubbed off on him because he had a 12.2% walk rate, which is about 50% higher than his career average.  Going to Anaheim from Cincinnati is an ugly park downgrade.  Still, he is now in a lineup with Kinsler, Upton, and of course Mike Trout.  This could be good for him.  I’m fine with Cozart as my starter at SS, though I’m more comfortable with him at MI.

Didi Gregorius – I’m the only Yankee fan in the world who doesn’t seem to like him very much.  My fellow fans seem to overrate the living crap out of him.  He’s a good contact hitter and a solid defender.  Didi has performed at a reasonably high level for two years now.  I have to admit he’s fantasy relevant.  Didi may be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the “juiced ball” period that we’ve been experiencing the past few years.  Still, I can’t predict that the balls will fly less far this coming year.  The lineup around him is stacked.  So yes, you can start Didi at SS.  I’m just still skeptical.

Chris Owings – Showed big signs of breaking out in 2017.  I love the park, lineup, and speed potential.  Owings lowered his ground ball percentage by almost 10%.  He is a guy I’ll be targeting at his likely price.

Addison Russell – I’m having a hard time quitting Russell.  The pedigree was so good.  He is in Chicago, where there’s plenty of other young studs.  He’s made improvements to his K rate that have yet to translate to anything better than a .230-ish average.  Russell is young, athletic, and surrounded by talent.  I feel like he’s going to figure it out eventually.

*****

I kind of like shortstop this year, definitely more than years past, and the Machado news was music to my ears.  I still think it’s worth paying up for one of the top 6-7 guys if you find yourself in the situation where you’re choosing between someone like Seager or an outfielder of similar skill.

 

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Mike Sheehan

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Comedian, Powerlifter, and most importantly a Cum Laude graduate of the fantasy baseball school of hard knocks. Double major in points and categories with a minor in roto. Happy to be doing my Postgraduate work here at the Fantasy Assembly.

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